ROME, Italy — With COVID-19 infections rising in Italy, the country tightened restrictions on Wednesday in the run-up to the Christmas and New Year holiday.
The most important new measures are the extension of the mandatory green pass to a wider array of venues, and restrictions for unvaccinated people. These measures, announced in a decree unanimously passed by Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s cabinet, will come into force on Dec. 6, lasting until Jan. 15 at least.
The Green Pass is a certificate proving that a person has received at least one dose of the vaccine, has recovered from the infection, or has tested negative in the last 48 hours.
So far, it has allowed holders to access public venues such as restaurants and bars, cinemas, gyms, nightclubs and stadiums.
“Super” Green Pass
When the new rules enter into force, only those with a ‘super’ green pass showing proof of vaccination or having recovered from the coronavirus will maintain the right to access such venues. Proof of a negative COVID test within the last 48 hours, which was permitted with the old Green Pass, will no longer be accepted.
Italy has been hit by a fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic since late October, yet the increase in new cases has so far remained limited, and the situation in the public health service is under control.
The country also has a high rate of vaccination, with 84.2 percent of the target population (aged 12 and above) fully immunized as of Wednesday, according to the Health Ministry.
However, the period between late December and beginning of January will see many people moving across the country for the holidays, and traditional gatherings and celebrations.
The new set of rules, especially those targeting unvaccinated people, was therefore deemed necessary in order both to stem infections and to prevent a further spread of the virus.
“The situation is under control, and our condition is among the best in Europe thanks to the vaccination campaign, which has been a remarkable success,” Draghi told a press conference broadcast live after the cabinet meeting.
Draghi recalled the high human and economic costs that Italy — the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe in 2020 — has paid to coronavirus, as well as the huge efforts made to bring the pandemic under control.
“This year Italians have reacted and now we want to protect this normality, we do not want to take risks,” the prime minister said. “We want this Christmas to be normal again for all of us.”
More restrictions on local transport
The new rules will also make the green pass mandatory to access all public transport, including local buses and metro lines and regional trains. So far, it has only been required for long distance transport.
Finally, starting on Dec. 15, vaccination will become mandatory for all members of the army and police force, school staff, and administrative staff working in public and private health care facilities. So far, it has only been compulsory for healthcare workers.
As of Wednesday, Italy has registered over 4.9 million coronavirus cases, including 4.6 million recoveries, over 133,000 fatalities, and more than 154,000 active infections.